Skipping Rope

Skipping can be an intensive, full-body workout that costs no more than the rope itself.

Jumping rope has all of the benefits of running but without the health risks. It’s an invigorating activity that gets you moving as fast as you can to your favorite tunes.

Skipping has played some interesting roles in society throughout the ages, and the practice continues to fill playgrounds with the chorus of chanting school children.

Skipping Through History

To skip, simply position your jump rope by taking a handle in each hand. Then, swing the rope using your wrists and jump over it when it reaches your feet. The form of exercise dates back to ancient Greek, Egyptian and Chinese cultures. The Chinese are thought to have invented the skipping rope as we know it today for a game called Hundred Rope Jumping. This was played during New year celebrations.

children playing together with a jump rope

The Dutch are believed to have brought the exercise to the Hudson River area in the 17th Century. The English ruling classes initially scoffed at the notion of people jumping over ropes for sport. Dutch children started playing games in the streets involving two kids holding one or two ropes on either end and one kid (or more) jumping over the center of the rope(s). They accompanied these games with songs. We now know this as double Dutch skipping. It wasn’t until 1802 that the English term skipping was actually coined, hundreds of years after the sport became popular.

How Effective Can Skipping Be?

It’s used by boxers who are known to be some of the fittest and toughest athletes in the world. Competitors use skipping to warm-up, cooldown and work out. Just some of its fitness benefits include building coordination, endurance and speed. Skipping can be seriously effective because it uses the majority of muscles in your body while fine-tuning hand-eye coordination as well as strengthening footwork.

Skipping is being hailed as a miracle sport that tones your body while pushing aerobic resistance and raising the heartbeat. You don’t need to go to the gym or pay exorbitant prices to develop some serious skipping skills. This means you can focus on choosing the best possible rope for the type of skipping you want to do. While you may have not even thought twice about this simple childhood game — it’s actually one of the most efficient workouts you can do. You can even develop some pretty impressive skills.

High-intensity Interval Training

In recent years, it has been noted that incredibly effective forms of exercise, such as running, can pose health risks if not done correctly. Technique is a highly important aspect of any workout, but some forms of exercise can put a strain on the knee joints and cartilage, which can lead to problems later in life. Skipping bypasses these, although, learning to do it properly is important.

In order to get the full effects from skipping, ditch the slow speed you got used to as a kid. Make sure you are focusing on speed and coordination when you skip. Add some skipping to your HIIT workout. These short bursts of high-intensity exercise are practiced alternately with other forms of exercise for no more than 20 minutes at a time.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab that skipping rope and jump your way towards fitness. It’s more engaging than a stint on the treadmill and gives your arm muscles a workout too. You can even fit a skipping rope in your travel bag and bring the gym on holiday with you.

Sit-Ups

It’s one of the first exercises we do as babies as well as an exercise you likely performed in PE class.

It works out your upper and lower abs and is rumored to give you a six-pack. Of course, we’re talking about sit-ups, the controversial workout that was once lauded for its efficiency. Let’s take a peek at this workout’s history and why it has led to such divisive opinions.

History

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint the invention of the sit-up, some historians believe it dates back to the Greek and Roman empires. Both societies were known for being physically fit and engaging in calisthenics, which are rhythmic exercises that mainly rely on body weight, including pull-ups, push-ups and abdominal exercises. Additionally, the Romans and Greeks created statues sporting six-pack abs, which suggests athletes devoted time and effort working on their abdomens.

Sit-ups have certainly been around since the 1950’s considering they were part of the US Presidential Fitness Test. Furthermore, in the 1960’s, they began appearing in World Records. Thus, while we may not know the exact time period people began doing sit-ups, they’ve been around for quite awhile.

Performing a Sit-Up

In order to properly do a sit-up, start by lying down on a floor or bench. Your feet can be touching or approximately one foot apart. Next, interlock your fingers behind your head, and using your abdominal muscles, pull yourself up into a sitting position. Your spine should be straight and elbows may touch your knees. Finally, slowly lower yourself until your shoulder blades connect with the floor before repeating the exercise.

There isn’t one sole suggestion for the amount of reps you should do, nor how frequently sit-ups should be performed. Try to do ten, and if that’s easy, increase to 25. You can check the recommendations for best practices based on your gender, age and fitness level.

Sit-Up Variations

While many people choose to perform sit-ups by placing their hands behind their head, others opt to cross their arms in front of their chest, so they don’t pull on the neck while exercising. Some people also use abdominal frames or cushions in order to make sit-ups less rigorous. While not required, it can be useful to have someone hold your ankles down or tuck your feet under a sturdy object as you move. Additionally, if you find performing a complete sit-up too difficult, try placing your legs at a 90 degree angle to the floor.

Although similar, sit-ups and crunches are not the same exercise. Crunches require the lower back to stay on the floor, which means less muscles are being used. While crunches may seem like a less intense exercise, they actually burn as many calories as sit-ups, and they’re considered a safer alternative.

Controversy

While sit-ups are generally regarded as safe, they can lead to lower back pain and hip issues. For this reason, the U.S. Army has recently chosen to remove sit-ups from their physical fitness tests. Additionally, on their own, sit-ups are unlikely to give you that desired six-pack. In order to increase core strength — and potentially get those washboard abs — experts recommend eating a low-calorie diet and trying other exercises instead of sit-ups, including planks and bicycle crunches.

Though they were historically a key component of past exercise regimens, sit-ups can be difficult to perform and can have negative consequences if done incorrectly. Always take time to ensure you’re doing yours properly, and in the event that sit-ups aren’t right for you, consider one of the various other exercises to get you fit and swimsuit-ready — safely.

Stretching exercises

Stretching exercises improve your flexibility and can have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing.

There are many benefits to practicing this exercise, and it’s a great stepping stone to other activities.

What is Stretching?

Stretching is a type of exercise that targets a specific muscle, muscle group or tendon. The muscle or tendon is flexed and stretched to improve elasticity and muscle tone. Many exercises involve stretching to some degree, such as yoga and Tai chi, while most athletes perform some type of stretching exercises prior to practicing sports like running, cycling and team sports.

History of Stretching Excercise

The word stretch originates from the 16th century Old English word streccan, which come from West Germanic language roots. Perhaps the oldest form of stretching as a disciplined form of exercise is yoga.

According to one legend, thousands of years ago, Adiyogi poured his knowledge into the Saptarishis, or seven sages, at lake Kantisarovar in the Himalayas. The sages brought yogic science to the Middle East, Asia and America. Parallels found in ancient cultures may stem from these practices. Indian mysticism fully embraced formalized stretching routines as a way to tie together the body, soul and mind. A mystic named Agastya is credited with spreading this culture of health and awareness throughout India, where yoga poses are evident in the vedas as early as 2700 B.C.

Prepare for Stretching

The good news is that stretching itself serves as a base for many other physical activities, so you can get right into it. It’s a good idea to start out with easier stretches to get the body warmed up before flowing into deeper or more difficult stretching exercises. If you wish, take a moment to center your thoughts and breathing so that you can fully concentrate on stretching.

The most common forms are static and dynamic stretches:

  • Static stretches are held in a comfortable position for 10 and 30 seconds. These exercises are beneficial following exercise.
  • Dynamic stretches are active movements that stretch the muscles without holding the position. These stretches prepare the muscles for other physical activity.

Beginning Stretches

Here are a few stretches for beginners. When searching for a regime that works for you, start slow, especially if you are older or have health concerns.

Side Stretch

A side stretch works the intercostal muscles found between your ribs, your external obliques and lats. In a standing position, with your feet together, lace your fingers. Raise your joined hands over your head and stretch your arms, torso and legs. Bend to one side slowly and hold the pose for about five seconds. Return to your original position and repeat on the other side. Alternate sides throughout the exercise.

Leg And Lower Back Stretch

This exercise stretches your lower back and legs at the same time. Sit comfortably on the floor with both legs in front of you. Bend one knee to rest the foot along the inside of the unbent leg. Lean forward, stretching over the straight leg, taking care to keep your back straight. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat, alternating legs as you go.

Upper Body Stretch

Now, stretch your upper body. In a standing position, with knees hip-width apart, raise bent arms over your head. Hold one elbow with the opposite hand and pull the elbow behind your head while leaning to the side. Hold the position 10 seconds. Repeat, alternating sides as you go.

There are many benefits to stretching, both physically and mentally. Stretching calms your mind and helps prevent tension headaches. It can improve your posture and increase blood flow, as well as increase your flexibility and range of motion. It’s the easiest form of exercise for those new to physical activity and it helps you look and feel better.

Youtube Video:

Images:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/group-young-multiethnic-people-stretching-legs-697360279

Walking

Tanzania is scattered with fossils which demonstrate that our ancestors began walking on two legs at least six million years ago.

Bipedalism is thought to have been a factor in the evolution of our gigantic brains and use of tools. A study from the London School of Economics found that it can be the best deterrent against obesity of all forms of exercise.

Taking a stroll is a powerful and underutilized work-out we can all do for free.

Brilliant Bipeds

Humans are one of the few species on earth that have adopted a bipedal gait. Other animals that walk on two feet include birds, kangaroos, lizards and occasionally primates. The way we walk is unique in that we keep our backs and our knees unbent. We strike the floor first with our heels and our toes are the last part of our body to leave the ground. In fact, the animal which adopts the most similar style of walking to us is a chicken.

An Ancient Form of Exercise

The exercise was first seen as an important aspect of maintaining good physical health after the Neolithic agricultural revolution. Prior to this, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle necessitated fitness in order to be successful in obtaining sustenance. Ancient Indian and Chinese civilizations realized that physical exertion protected people from certain diseases that a sedentary lifestyle seemed to promote.

Since those times, we’ve devised elaborate, competitive and beautiful methods of exercising. Fitness is currently one of the most lucrative industries in the world and the quest for physical optimization is something that most of us strive for. Caught up in a haze of marketing, fancy gyms and social media posts of our friends doing weird and wonderful forms of exercise, it can be too easy to forget about simple yet effective walking.

Free Fitness for Everyone

The world is a beautiful place, and walking gives you the opportunity to soak in the scenery and breathe in the fresh air. That said, you don’t need to travel to the countryside in order to get your fix of walking fitness. Canal towpaths, heritage trails, heaths, and riverside paths can be found to ramble along in towns and cities. For optimum results, a pace of three miles per hour is recommended. Not many people know that walking is even an Olympic sport:

Walking can be a great way for those who aren’t as fit to get back to a more healthy lifestyle. Even just ten minutes per day of fast-paced walking can contribute towards better heart health, burning calories, and building stamina. Once this becomes comfortable and you feel ready, add an extra five minutes onto your daily walk to avoid plateauing. Another incredible benefit of walking is that it can be incorporated into your daily routine. Try these tips for a fitness boost:

  • Use the stairs instead of lifts and/or walk up and down escalators
  • Walk to and from work
  • Ditch the car for shopping trips
  • Take family walks after meals

Improve your physical and mental health

A study by the University of Stamford found that walking can increase creative output by up to 60%. This is thought to be because engaging in activities in which our minds are allowed to wander can promote a mental state highly conducive to concocting innovative ideas. It’s also been theorized that a ten-minute walk can be just as beneficial as a 45-minute workout for relieving symptoms of stress and anxiety.

While seemingly innocuous, walking is underestimated as a highly effective form of exercise. When incorporated with regular resistance training, it can provide the majority of a person’s fitness requirements.

Hiking

Hiking is a popular outdoor recreational activity that is more vigorous than walking, and typically involves going longer distances, over rougher, more inaccessible, or remote terrain.

Hiking is inexpensive, easy to get started on, provides multiple bodies, heart and mind benefits, and is a progressive exercise you can do solo or in groups.

How Did Hiking Start?

While historians cannot pinpoint when hiking originated, it is believed that Iceman climbed the Alps some 5,000 years ago. The first record of hiking trek was in the year 125 when Roman Emperor Hadrian hiked to Etna. The Incans made religious treks to the Andes between 1400 and 1500. The current concept of hiking – as part of mountaineering – likely occurred with more recent mountaineering milestones between 1874 and 1985.

Type of Exercise

Hiking is a total body and cardiovascular exercise. The major body parts hiking targets include the quadriceps, biceps, abs, forearms, glutes, groin, hamstrings, chest and calves.

Hiking Preparations

You don’t just get out on a trail and go hiking. Preparation is key. The more difficult or longer a trail you’re attempting, the more extensive your hiking preparations need to be.

Physical Prep

Start preparing your body for hiking one or two months before the hike. Best exercises to get in good hiking physical shape include:

  • Hiking up/down trails, hills, mountains to build muscles
  • Running sprints, about 20-30 seconds, on flat ground/hills
  • Stepdown
  • Lunges
  • Belgian split quads
  • Kettle swings to work the hips, glutes and hamstrings

What to Take on a Hike

Whether it’s a day hike or a long-distance hike, what to take on a hike is paramount. Include the following in your pack:

  • Bandanna or buff
  • Sunglasses
  • Phone
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Extra gear
  • Water filter
  • Trekking poles
  • Good camera
  • Rain or wind jacket
  • Liner socks
  • Leukotape for blisters

How to Hike

Choose your trail. Prepare your gear. Get out on the trail or route and begin hiking. Be sure to pace yourself, drink plenty of water, and guard against fatigue. It’s also important to know when to stop and rest.

Benefits of Hiking

Not yet an endurance athlete? Some of the immediate benefits of hiking include:

  • Weight Loss – The exercise does encourage weight loss. Day hiking can burn upwards of 5,000 calories, although more modest caloric burns are also beneficial.
  • Toning Whole Body – Hiking is perhaps one of the easiest ways to tone the whole body.
  • Builds Stamina – As form of aerobic exercise, hiking boosts flexibility and strength, increases stamina and tempers fatigue.
  • Bone Strengthening – By slowing calcium loss, hiking strengthens bone density and strength. The exercise also helps prevent bone diseases, such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
  • Stress Relief – Hiking is a natural stress reliever, since being in nature rapidly dissipates stress levels.

Other hiking benefits include core strengthening, improved balance, lowered heart and blood pressure rates.

Different Types of Hikes

Here’s an overview of the different types of hikes:

  • Day Hiking – A day hike is one you can do in one day, without carrying an overwhelming amount of gear. It’s best for beginners.
  • Base Hiking – Starting and ending in a base camp, you spend more time outdoors and don’t have to haul as much gear as more difficult or longer hikes.
  • Section Hiking – Once you’ve been hiking for a few years, you’ll probably want to spend more time on various sections of longer trails.
  • Thru-Hiking – With thru-hiking, you complete longer trails in one stretch. Thru-hiking trails include Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Appalachian Trail.

Variants include backpacking hiking, overnight hiking, nature or scenic hiking, rope-guided hiking, and more.

The Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail is a good scenic day hiking example.

Calisthenics

Far from being an exotic exercise, calisthenics is one of the categories of exercise that first appeared when physical fitness culture began in the West.

Learn more and see if this whole-body fitness routine is right for you.

What Is Calisthenics?

Calisthenics is a system of exercise that focuses on using your body weight as resistance to develop a better physique and better overall fitness. It’s intended to use large muscle movements like running, standing, jumping, and pushing to help develop your overall musculature, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness.=

What Is The History Of Calisthenics? 

Doing Calisthenics on Floor

The term “calisthenics” has its roots in the Greek kallos, which means “beauty,” and sthenos, which means “strength.” This term was first recorded in Ancient Greece, and used among the Spartans, and the armies of Alexander the Great. 

Today, it is often utilized as part of school physical education programs in the West, and in military training.

What Type Of Exercise Is Calisthenics?

Man doing Calisthenics

Calisthenics is a hybrid system, which incorporates elements of both strength training, such as push-ups and pull-ups, with cardiovascular training, such as burpees, running, and plyometric jumping. For this reason, it’s a great option for those who want to improve their overall fitness.

Preparing For Calisthenics

Calisthenics

Calisthenics usually does not require much special equipment, as your body provides resistance for most exercises. You’ll want to stretch and wear loose athletic clothing. Some calisthenic exercises require equipment like pull-up bars, boxes for box jumping, or climbing ropes.

Practicing Calisthenics 

You can practice calisthenics anywhere. Public parks and running trails often have equipment like pull-up bars which can be used for calisthenics, as do private gyms. A few of the most common calisthenic exercises include:

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups/chin-ups
  • Dips
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Handstands
  • Burpees
  • Seated leg raises
  • Planks
  • Sit-ups
  • Box jumps
  • Running, typically sprints or interval training 

Depending on your strength and level of fitness, preferences, and available equipment, the exercises that you will want to incorporate into your routine may vary.

The Basics Of Calisthenics – See Some Common Exercises

Want to see some basic tutorials about how to do common calisthenic exercises? The above video goes over some of the most popular calisthenic workouts that you can do just about anywhere.

The Benefits Of Calisthenics

pull ups

Thanks to its ability to work out both your muscles and improve your cardiovascular fitness, calisthenics has a number of great benefits. It can help strengthen and tone your muscles, improve flexibility, and assist in weight loss. 

You can also improve your aerobic endurance and overall fitness, and target specific muscle groups by doing specific exercises. Lunges or squats, for example, can be used to strengthen the legs, while pull-ups and pushups strengthen the upper body. 

Calisthenics Variations

Street workouts, which use equipment in public parks and other public spaces instead of a gym, are a common variation on calisthenics, and this type of fitness is regularly practiced in areas where going to a gym may be unaffordable, or adequate fitness facilities don’t exist. This is also sometimes called “urban calisthenics.”

In some cases, calisthenics is incorporated into endurance training. This is called “circuit training,” and usually consists of running around a track, and pausing to do specific calisthenic exercises, usually with very little rest between each exercise.

Start Working Out With Calisthenics Now

Thanks to the ability to work out just about anywhere without any special equipment, it’s easy to try out calisthenic exercises for yourself. Get started now – and you’ll be shocked at how much your overall health and fitness improves.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an exotic exercise that is a great choice for those who would like to explore the history of Eastern health and fitness, and build strength and flexibility at the same time.

Tai chi is also thought by practitioners to have spiritual and mental health benefits, so that’s an added bonus!

What Is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi Exercise

Tai Chi is an ancient type of Chinese martial art, which has its roots in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy. Primarily, it focuses on health benefits, like emphasizing proper posture, strong abdominal breathing, and maintaining and encouraging flexibility in the joints and muscles.

What Is The History Of Tai Chi?

Tai Chi has been practiced in one form or another in China for centuries, but it first got its start in America in the 1930s, when a man named Choy Hok Pang began teaching. Throughout the following decades, this exercise became more well-recognized, thanks in part to a man named  Zheng Manqing who began teaching it in New York in the 1960s.

What Type Of Exercise Is Tai Chi? 

Doing Tai Chi in Park

Today’s form of Tai Chi is primarily practiced without a partner, and consists of numerous “forms” or taoulu. These movements are intended to teach proper balance, natural range of motion of the center of gravity, and strengthening of the arms and joints. It also incorporates breathing exercises. Depending on the form of Tai Chi you practice, it may have anywhere from 24-108 forms, though 37-form Tai Chi is the most common in America.

Preparing For Tai Chi

No special equipment is required to practice Tai Chi, so simply wear comfortable athletic clothing, and a pair of sneakers or running shoes. Tai chi is often practiced in group settings, but can also be practiced on your own with the help of video instruction. It can be practiced either inside or outside, depending on your preferences.

Practicing Tai Chi 

Tai Chi at Sunset

Practicing Tai Chi primarily focuses on moving through each “form” and using proper posture for each one. Tai Chi beginners may move through 10-20 forms in a session, while more advanced practitioners may do many more movements.

The Basics Of Tai Chi – Watch This Video Tutorial

To learn more about basic Tai Chi exercises and forms, the above video is a great resource. As you master these basic forms, you can start adding more forms onto your own practice. We also recommend trying out some group classes, as they can be very fun and help you refine your technique under instruction. 

The Benefits Of Tai Chi

doing Tai Chi

Traditionally, Tai Chi is thought to unblock your “qi” or natural life force that flows through your body, and to help balance the “yin” and “yang” of your body and keep it harmonized. 

While these spiritual elements of Tai Chi can’t be clinically proven, it has been shown that Tai Chi has some proven health and fitness benefits. It has been shown to help reduce accidental falls in seniors. Because it is a very low-impact, gentle exercise, it’s also ideal for people who have chronic health issues like COPD, osteoarthritis, and heart failure. 

Tai Chi Variations

There are many different styles and variations of Tai Chi, and most Western Tai Chi utilizes moves from multiple different schools. 

One major variation of Tai Chi is called tuishou (pushing hands) and consists of partner-based Tai Chi exercises. This type of Tai Chi is more focused on martial arts, and focuses on redirecting motion, enhancing reflexes, and building better timing and coordination.

Tai Chi is also often practiced in swimming pools, as this helps minimize impact further. This type of Tai Chi is very popular with older seniors.

Give Tai Chi A Try Today 

This exotic fitness activity is easy to learn, and you don’t need any special equipment – or even any classes – to learn the basics. Give it a try now, and see if Tai Chi fits into your own fitness routine.

Isometrics

Isometric exercises are easy to do in the comfort of your own home. While they’re not exactly an exotic exercise like yoga, they have proven results for muscular strength and endurance.

so learn more about how to incorporate them into your fitness routine below. 

What Is Isometric Exercise?

Isometric exercises are a subset of strength training. The primary difference between isometrics and other forms of strength training is that the muscles are held in a static position, rather than contracting. 

Planks, for example, are an isometric exercise where you hold yourself up on your elbows and straighten your back, then hold the position for a set interval of time. In contrast, sit-ups require the dynamic movement of your muscles, and are not an isometric exercise.

What Is The History of Isometrics?

Isometrics exercise

Isometric exercises were first introduced alongside the early days of Western physical culture and bodybuilding, which is usually acknowledged as beginning in America in the middle of the 19th century.

What Type Of Exercise Is Isometrics?

doing crunches on mat

Isometrics are considered to be a type of strength training, as they are primarily non-aerobic in nature, and are intended to help strengthen the muscles through repeated, static movements.

Because isometrics are static rather than dynamic, they are often recommended for those who have a limited range of motion, or who are recovering from injuries, allowing them to strengthen their muscles without a high risk of re-injuring a particular muscle group.

Preparing For Isometric Exercise

gym

Most isometric exercises can be conducted in the comfort of your own home without any additional gear. To prepare for isometric exercises, simply dress in some comfortable workout clothes. Some light stretching is also beneficial and can help you avoid injury.

Practicing Isometric Exercises

squats

There are many different types of isometric exercises. A few of the most common ones include:

  • Planks – This exercise consists of laying down, then holding yourself up on your elbows with your back straightened, usually for 15-30 seconds. It strengthens the back and abdominal muscles.
  • Wall sits – This exercise consists of placing your back against a wall, then lowering yourself into a “seated” position, and holding the pose for 15-30 seconds. It strengthens many muscles in the legs, like the quadriceps and glutes.
  • Body holds – This exercise consists of lying flat on the ground, then raising both your arms and legs to create a “V” shape with your body, and holding it for 15 seconds. It strengthens your upper and lower abdominal muscles. 

Isometrics Basics – Learn How To Get Started With This Video

If you’re interested in practicing common isometrics on your own and you’d like to learn more, the above video outlines many of the most common isometric exercises, how to perform them, and their benefits.

The Benefits Of Isometrics

Isometrics help strengthen the muscles targeted by each exercise. They also have been shown to help lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health as part of a fitness regimen.

Isometrics are also very low-impact and do not require any special equipment, and are ideal for isolating muscle groups and strengthening them individually. 

Isometric Exercise Variations 

Most isometrics are performed without any additional equipment. These are known as “bodyweight isometrics.” However, the most common variant of this exercise system uses weights and other equipment, and is called “weighted isometrics.” 

Instead of bench pressing a weight, for example, you can push the weight up, and hold it in place for an extended period of time. This is an isometric exercise – because the muscles are static and not contracting – but uses additional equipment. 

Utilizing weights to perform isometric exercises can open up a number of new exercises, and is a good option once you’ve become familiar with the basics of isometric exercise. 

Get Started With Isometrics Now 

Isometrics are easy to learn, offer great health benefits, and require no special equipment – so start incorporating them into your daily fitness routine today.

Yoga

Looking for an exotic exercise that can help with your health and fitness?

Inspired by age-old Hindu traditions, yoga is a fantastic way to build strength and improve your physical and spiritual health. 

What Is Yoga?

doing yoga on yoga mat

Yoga a group of exercises and spiritual practices that trace their history back millennia to Ancient India. It focuses on building strength, flexibility and physical fitness through a variety of different “poses,” also called “asanas.” It also has a strong spiritual element, and is thought by many practitioners to help improve the spiritual and mental well-being. 

What Is The History Of Yoga?

Yoga has its basis in Ancient India, and the word was first used in the 5th century BCE. Today’s yoga is different from this form of yoga, though, which was primarily a spiritual practice.

Today’s fitness-based yoga classes trace back to “hatha yoga.” A yogi named Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was primarily responsible for this modern form of yoga as exercise, as he combined ancient yoga poses with modern fitness exercises. Today, this type of yoga is one of the most popular group exercises in the Western world. 

What Type Of Exercise Is Yoga?

yoga classes

Yoga primarily focuses on building muscular strength and flexibility, as well as balance. It’s not a very cardiovascular-intensive exercise, compared to running or riding a bicycle.

The basis for yoga is moving through different poses, called “asanas.” These poses usually involve contorting and stretching the body and muscles in a particular way, and vary from being very easy, requiring almost no training, to extremely complex poses that require very strong muscles and good balance.

Preparing For Yoga

yoga mat

Preparing for yoga does not require much equipment. You will usually need a yoga mat, which is a soft mat that allows you to bend and do poses on hard surfaces while remaining comfortable and avoiding injury. 

Beyond this, all you need are some loose-fitting, comfortable, athletic clothes, and perhaps a water bottle. Then, you will be led through the yoga session in a group. If you are practicing on your own, you may need to use a laptop or phone to view instruction by a Yogi, unless you already know many yoga poses.

Practicing Yoga 

Yoga classes are usually an hour in length, and begin with gentle stretching poses, then move onto more difficult poses. The level of difficulty depends on the class you decide to take. Each pose is held for a short time, and your instructor will help you move through each pose, and do each one properly. The end of a yoga class often includes a pose intended to help relax and de-stress the body. 

Yoga Basics – Watch And Learn!

Interested in learning more about yoga? Here is a quick video outlining the basics with a 20-minute workout included. Watch and learn! 

The Benefits Of Yoga

doing yoga

Yoga can help strengthen and stretch your muscles, and also improves your balance. Many practitioners also claim that yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety, treat lower back pain, and even treat some of the symptoms of depression.

Variants Of Yoga 

One of the most popular variants of yoga is “hot yoga” (Bikram), which consists of a group of 26 poses done in a room that’s between 95-106 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of yoga is thought to have benefits similar to a sauna.

Other major variants of yoga include prenatal yoga, which is designed for pregnant women, and Kundalini yoga, which emphasizes the spiritual aspects of yoga, including meditation.

Try Yoga For Yourself – And See Its Benefits! 

There is a reason yoga has been practiced for more than two millennia. It’s fun, easy to get started, and has a number of great health benefits. So find a yoga class near you now, and try it for yourself today.

Cross Training

Cross training is not exactly an exotic exercise, but it can be very helpful for your fitness if you’re an athlete.

Get the details below, and see why you should regularly cross train, and perform workouts that are not normally part of your preferred sport or activity. 

What Is Cross Training?

Cross training, put simply, is the practice of training in a sport that is not your specialty, in an attempt to enhance your overall fitness and athletic performance. 

If you are a swimmer, for example, lifting weights would be an example of cross training, particularly if you focus on muscle groups that may help you swim more effectively. If you are a runner, riding an indoor bicycle when the weather is bad would be an example of cross training. 

What Is The History Of Cross Training?

Getting Ready for Cross Training

Cross training has been used by athletes for centuries, and its true origins are likely just as old as athletic competitions. More recently, fitness companies like CrossFit have emphasized the importance of cross-functional training – and turned it into a rising trend among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

What Type Of Exercise Is Cross Training?

Cross Training in Gym

This primarily depends on the sport or activity that you focus on. If you are a bodybuilder, for example, cross training could consist of running, riding a bicycle, or swimming for cardiovascular benefits.

On the other hand, if you participate in a cardio-heavy sport like triathlon, you could choose to do an exercise like weight lifting or yoga, which would have benefits for your muscle strength and flexibility.

Preparing For Cross Training

Doing Cross Training

When cross training, you want to minimize your risk of injury. If you are just starting a new fitness activity you have not tried before, you should familiarize yourself with the proper techniques, stretch beforehand, and wear the appropriate clothing and gear for your chosen activity.

Practicing Cross Training

Playing Tennis

When cross training, it’s usually best to select an activity that is complementary to your primary sport. If you are a tennis player, for example, lifting weights will help you develop strength to hit the ball harder, and running or riding a bike will improve your cardiovascular fitness. 

The idea is to choose an exercise that is different from your typical workout, but will still have benefits for your chosen sport or activity – so take some time to think about what cross training methods may be right for you.

Learn The Basics About Cross Training With This Video

This video is targeted at runners, but introduces you to some of the key concepts of cross training. For more information, do some searching online and find out what other athletes in your sport do to cross train! 

The Benefits Of Cross Training

Cross training allows you to vary your workouts, which helps you stay motivated. In addition, it lets you target muscles and parts of your body that may not typically be exercised when you’re training for your preferred sport – which can enhance your overall fitness, performance, and physique. 

Cross Training Variations

Everyone has their own variations on cross training. The right activity depends on your age, level of fitness, preferred sport, the equipment you have, and other such factors – so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Start Cross Training For Better Athletic Performance 

If you are an athlete and want to perform better in your favorite sport, we highly recommend giving cross training a try. It helps break the monotony of your typical workouts, and explore new fitness activities that you just might love!